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Chapter 12 : xii.
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“C’mon, Padfoot, we’re gonna be late for breakfast,” James sighed, shoving Sirius roughly until his friend finally groaned and swatted at him.
“Alright, alright, I’m coming.” It took another five minutes before Sirius pulled himself out of bed, and he blearily glanced at the clock before swearing. They still had one hour before breakfast, as it was only seven o’clock, but he was grateful despite his angry demeanor. James had given him time to shower.
He meandered into the bathroom, knocking on the wall once he was in the shower. He heard James and Remus enter, talking animatedly, and the two brushed their teeth together, including Sirius in on their conversation. When they left, Sirius finished up quickly while listening to the sounds of them attempting to wake Peter. He tied a towel around his waist and squirted some paste onto his toothbrush before palming his face and setting about making himself pretty. When he exited, Peter passed by him, looking to be still asleep.
He dressed slowly, and James smirked when he tugged on his boots instead of his regular school shoes. He kept them mostly untied, feeling lazy, and he was just fastening his cloak on when Peter finally emerged and bumbled over to his bed to get dressed. He grumbled something incoherent and probably nasty, and they just sniggered and continued their light conversation.
When the four of them were all finally ready, they headed downstairs and flopped onto their respective couches and armchairs around the dead fire in the common room. It was only a matter of minutes before Lily came down the stairs, looking rather lonely without Iris next to her. James frowned; he was always rather disturbed that Lily’s roommates didn’t hang out with her, especially now that he’d seen her become so close to Iris.
“Hello boys,” she greeted rather softly, stopping at James’ side of the couch, “Ready for breakfast?” They gave her mumbled responses before slowly filing out of the tower and into the hallway where James took Lily’s hand and they stepped ahead of the other three Marauders. “How is Sirius?” Lily asked quietly, something that had become routine every morning.
“He’s alright. He seems more himself, from what I can tell, but I know he’s still caught up in everything. He’s still a little distant, but getting better. How’re you, though?”
“Okay,” Lily said with a shrug, “I really miss her.”
“Yea,” James nodded, “So do I.”
They started to slow until they were hanging back with their friends, and, together, the five of them made their way to the Great Hall where they ate breakfast and headed off to Potions. “I think Slughorn is still hoping Iris will return,” Lily said to Remus as she added an ingredient to their Pepperup Potion; Slughorn had decided that Madame Pomfrey was being overrun and they should learn how to brew their own (plus, he seemed to be in a rather awful mood and didn’t feel like teaching). “Because he hasn’t assigned us a new partner,” she added, and Remus nodded.
“I certainly hope she does. I don’t think I can handle anymore of Sirius’ staring out at the night all the time. It’s maddening. Plus, she was nice, and I liked having someone around who understood me truthfully.”
Lily smiled. She knew things would be okay in the end.
Lunch was a happy reprieve. The students of Potions that morning all had steam whistling out of their ears, even those who weren’t sick but had to demonstrate if the potion worked. The Marauders and Lily sat down in the midst of a great bout of conversation, jabbering back and forth with one another, and the five of them immediately started heaping food onto their plates as they went.
Halfway into their meal, the post came; it had been arriving around lunchtime as of late because all the owls were far too exhausted from wintry flights during the night and typically rested during the morning. However, hordes of them came soaring in now, and the Gryffindor table was surprised to find five owls swooping down, circling one another until they each landed in front of their respective owners.
Lily took her letter quickly, allowing her owl to munch on a piece of bread. “Petunia’s getting married,” she announced suddenly, horrorstruck, “Oh, and to that awful oaf, Vernon. The one I told you about,” she continued, swatting at James distractedly, “The one I met over the summer. He’s interning at that stupid drill place, and—”
“He has the mustache and the purple face, right,” James finished hurriedly, his eyes darting nervously over his letter. When he finished, the other four were staring curiously at him. “My father’s ill,” he finally said, his shoulders sagging, “A healer from Mungo’s came by because he was too weak to apparate or Floo, and apparently they’re doing all they can for him, but my mother wants me to come home this weekend, just in case.”
“Oh James,” Lily softened, curling an arm around him and resting her head on his shoulder, “I’m so sorry.”
But James’ attention had shifted abruptly, causing his friends to look up with him. Sirius was practically sprinting toward the staff table. As he nearly flew up the steps, the students of Hogwarts trickled to silence and watched him.
“She’s alive,” he said, his shaking voice echoing in the Great Hall. Dumbledore studied the note that Sirius had placed before him, his eyes widening before he passed it to McGonagall. The headmaster leaned forward, whispering quietly and furiously as James, Remus, Peter, and Lily stood up, anxiety filling them.
“The five of you,” Dumbledore said when they reached the staff table, “My office. Now.” McGonagall was already standing up as Sirius straightened and nodded. They followed the headmaster and Transfiguration professor out of the Great Hall, leaving behind silent and curious onlookers.
Lily could hardly believe what they’d just been told. The four Marauders around her were sitting in complete and utter silence, but her mind was racing in a million different directions. How could Emily have betrayed them? She’d literally just seen her yesterday. How had this happened in a blink of an eye and right under their noses? Dumbledore had trusted her with so much; she was one of the Order’s most unflawed and greatest members.
Lily was having trouble breathing.
If Dumbledore was right about his other theories, as well, that meant Iris could very well be dead right now. They had no idea when she’d sent the note, though they were convinced that it had indeed been in the last three days, since it was only just barely February, but still. Emily could have already found and killed her. She knew exactly where they’d gone to fetch Ariel’s fire and the golden lily.
Sirius stood suddenly, disbelief etched into his features. Lily’s heart pained for him; she could only imagine what horrors he was going through. “Prongs,” he whispered before he closed his eyes and then disappeared from the office. James silently stood and followed his friend out, leaving Lily, Remus, and Peter in the watch of Dumbledore and McGonagall.
“I think I’m going to grow a beard,” Sirius said outside of the office, walking briskly with James by his side.
“You already mostly have one. Look at that stubble,” James tried to joke, but Sirius didn’t even crack the faintest of smiles.
“I think she’s dead.”
“I can feel it. Do you wanna smoke?”
James blinked, nodding. “Yea, sure.” They walked together in silence after that, eventually reaching the steps where they continued and continued until they were deep in the Forbidden Forest and Sirius shifted without warning. James sighed before following suit, and, together, they wasted the night bounding through the forest.
Lily looked up as there was a sharp scream. Remus followed her movements, blinking and frowning as another scream echoed across the grounds. “It’s coming from outside,” Lily said softly, going to stand by the window. Nothing met her gaze, and she was about to shrug and return to the couch when yet another scream cut the air. Lily swiveled to face Remus, and he was already getting up off the couch.
“I’ll be right back,” he muttered before disappearing upstairs. When he returned, he was holding James’ invisibility cloak, and Lily just nodded once before hurrying over to him. They slipped out of the common room, the Marauders’ Map tucked into Remus’ back pocket, and, once outside the portrait hole, he dropped the cloak over them. They walked, hunched, hurrying through the castle until they reached the front doors. Four more screams ripped the night air throughout their journey.
“No, no, please God, no,” a voice whimpered beyond their sight as Remus pushed open one of the large doors and slipped through, Lily edging along with him. They were just about to descend the steps when Lily let out a shriek and dashed away, the cloak falling from Remus as she nearly tugged it with her, and he watched it flutter to the ground like silk. When he raised his eyes from gathering it up, he almost dropped it again.
“GET DUMBLEDORE!” Lily bellowed over her shoulder as she continued to sprint across the grounds. Remus immediately obeyed her, and Lily flinched as Iris screamed.
There she was, crumpled on the ground, bleeding and struggling to stand. “IRIS!” Lily shouted, causing the blonde to snap her head up. “IRIS, I’M COMING! God, please don’t shift.”
It seemed like the grounds stretched out endlessly before her, and Lily cursed the lake as she had to wind around it. Iris was so far. There was no way she was going to reach her. Finally, after what seemed like ages, Lily almost slammed into the large gates, and her breath escaped her all in a rush as she gripped the black bars and shook them, terror exploding in her. Why couldn’t she get through?
“Lily,” Iris gasped, pressing a hand against the invisible barrier separating them.
“Iris, no, no, no, Iris, please, don’t shift,” Lily begged, falling to her knees. She banged her fists against the gates, screaming. “NO!”
“I’m so cold, Lily,” Iris whispered, her eyes fluttering.
“Iris, please, you have to stay with me. Is there anything I can do?”
The redhead turned at the voice, nearly fainting at the sight of Remus and Dumbledore. The headmaster was hurriedly pulling his wand out, and, seconds later, Iris fell through the gates. Lily pushed aside her shock and quickly scooped her friend in her arms.
“Incendiocorpus,” Iris said, struggling to push away from Lily, “Before.” Lily nodded, placing her friend back on the ground and whispering the spell. She flinched as Iris’ body was enveloped in flames, and it was only when Iris reached out a hand that Lily released the spell. “Quick,” Iris stuttered out.
“Has anyone seen Sirius or James?”
“Right there,” Remus panted as he finally reached the two girls. Lily lifted her head to see Sirius running headlong toward them from the forest, James erupting just behind him. Neither were wearing shirts or shoes, though they looked flushed and warm.
“The gates,” Iris gasped, but it was too late.
Dumbledore suddenly deflected a well-aimed curse, and Remus yanked Lily and Iris out of the path of Emily Kelunt, who was steadily approaching them. “Get up to the castle. Get her warm,” Remus ordered even as he pulled out his wand and turned his back to them, preparing to fight.
Lily just nodded, dashing away as McGonagall shielded them. She heard a quiet exchange between James and Sirius, and she watched as they split, James toward the gates and Sirius toward the girls.
“Don’t you dare,” Sirius gasped as he reached them and Iris shook. “No, don’t you dare. Iris, God, Iris.” Before she knew what was happening, Sirius had taken Iris from her and was breaking to his knees, body curling around the blonde’s.
“Sirius, we have to get back to the castle! It’s not safe!” she yelled, trying to pull him back up and letting out a breath of shock as she did. Sirius was ice cold to the touch, almost like a frozen statue. She gripped his shoulder, but he fell away from her touch, unconscious even as Iris struggled away from his grasp.
“Oh my God,” Iris barely whispered, staggering to her feet, “Lily, Lily, oh my God, he’s going to die.”
“What did he do?” Lily exclaimed, hurrying to lift Sirius with Iris’ help.
“He gave me his warmth. All of it. He’s going to freeze to death.” Lily stared at Iris a moment in shock before she nodded and they set off dragging Sirius’ body toward the castle, moving as fast as they could and screaming for help.
Disclaimer: Everything recognizable belongs to J.K. Rowling. Everything otherwise recognizable belongs to Maggie Stiefvater.
This is the last pre-written chapter I have for this story. I certainly hope I’m going to be able to get the next chapter written and up on time, but I can’t make any promises. I’m so sorry for this, guys. My Harry Potter muse seems to have just disappeared entirely and replaced itself with my Marvel muse. But, I’m going to try, I promise. So, keep an eye out.
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